Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Two Conservatives

Political analysts divide their world into two groups: liberals and conservatives. However, there are two types of conservative: economic conservatives and social conservatives. Conservatives come in two types, but they are often uneasy bedfellows in the same political party, because they have very different interests.

Economic conservatives favour free trade. They believe that whatever is good for big business is good for America. They want the government to keep out of businesses, so they can get on with doing what they do best: making money. They hate social welfare programs, because the believe people should get ahead by hard work, like they have done. (Of course they want the government to bail out the big banks, if it threatens the economic system). They welcome migrants, because they provide cheap labour and increase the demand for their products and services.

Social conservatives are not concerned about economic liberalism, because they live where the rubber hits the road. They more concerned about social issues that are disrupting their families and destroying their communities.

The political, economic, financial and culture elites are economic conservatives, but on social issues they are liberal.

The only immigrants they meet, apart from their college-educated colleagues, are the people who clean their offices, or the men on the truck picking up the trash. They smile kindly when they encounter them, because they look like nice people, but they never have to go where they live, and they would never go into their homes.

These elites tend to live itinerant lives, moving from job to job to get promotion, so they do not value family and community life. They do not care about the breakdown of the family and other forms of social change that is fragmenting the suburbs, because they do not stay in one place long enough to see it.

The economic elites love free trade, because they own the intellectual property for cellphones and televisions, so they make money wherever they are made. They are glad that cellphones are made in China, because it makes them affordable.

The excluded classes hate free trade, because cars from Japan and televisions from China destroyed their jobs. They see migrants moving into the cheap housing in their decaying suburbs, but not joining into community life, because they prefer to hook up with their own people. They see the children of migrants standing in groups on the street corners and they feel threatened.

They used to be concerned about abortion, but they now realise that for working class girls, pregnancy is a pathway to poverty and misery. They have seen this happen so often, that abortion is now a lesser of two evils.

The financial conservatives like migrants, because they provide cheap labour that keeps costs down. The social conservatives see them taking all the low-paid jobs in the service sector, which their children and mothers used to do.

The political and economic elite want to project American military power around the world. Their children go to college, not into the army. They rely on the armed forces to keep the international sea-lanes open, so that trade can follow.

The excluded classes are ambivalent about foreign wars. They are aware that war creates jobs, but they also realise that their families and friends will be doing they fighting and paying the increased taxes. They have seen young men and women return from war with permanent life-limiting injuries and emotional scars.

The social conservatives hate the social change that is being foisted on them by the political and cultural elites. Many are Christians or have a Christian memory, so they know that what is happening is wrong, but their churches are impotent. They are struggling to bring their children to the gospel, so they have no hope for moral and social transformation of their society by the gospel. They do not know where it will end, but it makes them afraid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem is exacerbated by the changes in the Democratic Party since the late '60s. Liberalism (using the term in the US sense) is now essentially the politics of campus radicalism gone mainstream, and is a very different animal from the liberalism of Roosevelt, Truman, Humphrey, and Johnson. (The 1968 Democratic Convention clearly displayed the rupture and the coming of the new era, as Humphrey watched aghast the antics of people who were supposed to be on his side.) Many people who are socially conservative do not necessarily care for the economic views of the economic conservatives, and coexist uneasily with them in the Republican Party, but they have no alternative because of the New Left's bundling of issues. If you want economic policies reminiscent of the New Deal and Fair Deal--in other words, policies that were mainstream for decades--you also must vote in favor of abortion, homosexual marriage, boys using the girls' locker room because they "identify" as female, limitations of "offensive" speech on college campuses, etc. Don't like capital punishment? You have to vote for a party that does like abortion. Don't like war but do like capital punishment? Too bad, because neither party will let you divide those two. Here's a perfect illustration of the American political scene: last December, my wife was surprised to hear religious Christmas music playing in a health-food store. I told her that yes, that was surprising, that one normally hears religious music in a gun shop. We laughed about it, but it's actually a frustrating situation.